My mom and I are (or were) self-proclaimed “Ivory girls.” (If you are middle-aged, you might remember those Ivory soap commercials that inspired this nickname.) My mom dropped off the pure, no make-up, au naturale bandwagon around her forties, but I march on. I love the fact that even if I wanted to wear make-up on my rock, the humidity and heat wouldn’t allow it. Everything melts off. Though if I want to go for the Keith Richards/Captain Jack Sparrow raccoon eyes look, no problema – that can be accomplished. I’ll just sweat whatever I apply off within minutes. (I once tried when meeting some friends for dinner on the malecon. I had to put make-up on in the car with the AC blowing in my face just to get it to stay. One glance in the restaurant bathroom an hour later informed me this was a wasted effort.)

The development of rosacea after my son was born and my skin’s general aversion to the dry winter months in middle America forced me to attempt to wear a moisturizing foundation to cover the red and basically bathe in lotion to keep my skin from cracking and itching. Now, in Cabrera which is always lush and green, I find I only need a squirt of lotion to cover myself head to toe, and that’s only after lengthy swims in the ocean or someone’s chlorinated pool. (Our pool has less chlorine than the drinking water that comes out of the tap in Michigan.) My skin loves the tropics. I should get my dermatologist to write me a prescription for living in the Caribbean. Could my insurance cover my costs to live in Dominican Republic? It’s a nice dream, isn’t it?


The only photo mom gave permission to post…probably due to backlighting!


Overall, I’ve found that island life is a far more holistic way of living. I really think the fresh air and diet helps with general health and well-being. I eat way more vegetables and fruits here and way less food with additives and preservatives. I sleep better having spent my days outdoors. I have heard that all of these differences help with digestion and sleep and mental states and more –  it’s a no brainer to me. We put crap into our bodies in the rush rush of first world living and then we feel like crap. It’s only logical that the more natural switch that comes with living on an island would feel more natural for our bodies too.

In addition to not wearing make-up, I don’t even attempt to do anything with my hair. Being half-Korean, maybe my straight dark hair (now graying *sigh*) was made for island life. It seems to love the untreated water from the cistern which everyone in the area calls “mountain water” due to an aqueduct system that brings the rain water out of hills around Cabrera to its residents mostly for free. Hats are this girl’s best friend on my Caribbean rock.

I recently realized there was something missing in my casa on the hill: mirrors. We finally put one above the sink in the bathroom and I avoided it for a week. I decided what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. Then, a giant grasshopper thwacked me in the eye and I went to look at it in the dreaded mirror. Lo and behold, I looked pretty good! My rosacea was barely perceptible. It just looked like I had been in the sun which, naturally, I had. My hair had body and shine.  Basically, not bad. I’m not vain – well, no more vain than the average lady. But I must say, I am totally digging Tropical Rene!

Have you found yourself to be a much happier, healthier version of yourself while living on an island too?


Though future selfies will now only be allowed using my husband’s drone!

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

The Big Rock of the Dominican Republic

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


Rene once made the mistake of exclaiming to the heavens, “I would rather live anywhere other than Southeastern Michigan!” And guess what? The Gods deemed her in need of a lesson in humility. She then spent the next 20+ years raising a family in… yep, you guessed it: Metro Detroit! Having learned that one’s locale most definitely shapes one’s quality of life, she set off to find a tropical paradise to call home. Stop numero uno was Cabrera, a little farming town on the north coast of the Dominican Republic away from tourists and resorts. Next stop was… no wait, there was no next place to visit. She fell in love with Cabrera and has a cute little casa with a pool on a hill taking in the trade winds off the wide blue Atlantic Ocean. Much better.

She’s currently a part-time rock dweller in transition to full-time. She’s learning that her life can be much simpler, that deadlines and meetings and the rush-rush of a North American modern existence isn’t real life. Young Rene traveled and read books and painted, met amazing people from all over the world, and never owned a TV.  Mature Rene looks forward to those things again on her big rock in the Caribbean Sea.

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